Posted by: Valerie | September 30, 2012

No smoke but lots of fire

The forest is ablaze but thankfully there is no smoke, just leaves of red and gold. We are almost at the height of the autumn colours up in here on the Shield. It really is the most spectacular time of the year, and no bugs to contend with. It is still quite warm although the nights are chilly. My camera is groaning with the weight of its memory stick and threatening to turn golden. Yesterday, I coerced poor Joe into hiking to the top of the Eagle’s Nest which is a hawk observatory on the top of the 200 ft. cliff that dominates the town of Bancroft. I was puffing like poor old Thomas the Tank Engine with a heavy load on the way up (I don’t do hills well at all) and Joe was complaining that his legs were about to give out on the way down.  I must add that we didn’t hike all the way up – just from the car park! It was worth it for the spectacular view of the changing colours from the look-out at the top. Strangely there is a whopping great cross right at the top of the cliff – who knows why, but Church is very big in these parts.

I don’t believe I can remember a summer quite like this one past. It has been positively Arizonan and the grass is dead. The green stuff that has shown up is almost all weeds. How come weeds don’t die, just the grass?

We stayed home this year. No glamorous foreign excursions or even Canadian excursions.  We almost we to PEI and Nova Scotia – and didn’t; we almost went to Niagara-on-the-Lake – and didn’t. All we have to look forward to for now is a trip to Orillia which is rather dull in itself, its main claim to fame being the Stephen Leacock museum (been there, done that) and the big gaudy CasinoRama. Don’t know what Rama stands for. Joe’s daughter, Liz, gave him tickets for his birthday to a stage show at the casino at the beginning of October so hopefully there will still be some decent weather as we will hang around for a couple of days afterwards.

Have I ever written about Joe’s first visit to a casino? If yes, sorry, but I’m going to repeat it. Joe is by no means a gambler, no, no way at all. However, finding himself there, he cautiously converted a few bucks into chips and sat down at a machine, popped a chip in and then all the bells of hell started shrieking. Joe panicked. “Oh, my God, I broke it,” he gasped. He had won the jackpot – $2,700! Are you expecting me to tell you that he gambled it all away? Not likely! He stuffed it in my handbag, told me to guard it with my life, and we scarpered out of there (after I had lost my stake in the slots in about five minutes – which is typical of what happens to me if I play games of chance).

I do remember one occasion back in England when husband and several of his pals went off to the pub while I stayed home with the kids. They all tumbled back for coffee after closing time and then decided to play poker. I won! I won! Of course I was sober and I don’t think academics are much good at poker. Well, these one weren’t, for sure.

Talking about memories, I am sitting here after dinner, waiting for Dragon’s Den to begin and find myself watching Coronation Street. I don’t recognise the characters at all but they all talk Lancashire and seem to have much the same problems they had in the days when I used to feed Richard in front of the telly. Richard is 46. We lived then in the delightful hamlet of Acklam, Middlesbrough, Yorkshire. It was and very likely still is, in reality, a dirty, smelly, heavily industrial city, surrounded by dirty, smelly, heavily industrial cities. But the people were great – friendly and funny and we made very good friends there. Also on the plus side was M’boro’s proximity to the North York Moors and the east coast towns. Beautiful country with quaint stone villages, and cosy pubs serving ploughman’s lunches and real ale.

My daughter Anna and her Tim have just returned from a trip around England and I’d love to have gone along, even if it meant carrying the luggage. They wouldn’t have let me do that, I’m sure, but I would have been a marvellous guide. They went to the Roman Wall and then took a tour through Wensleydale and Swaledale, visited Hurworth, the village we used to live in before we came to Canada, then down to York and Ilkley to visit Anna’s uncle Rob and then to London where they had a brief lunch with my brother Tom who is just about to take his new appointment as Chief Inspector of Constabulary and is apparently extremely excited. October 1st is the big day. I never asked Tom if he will be wearing a uniform as CIC – maybe not, as he’s never been a serving officer – as some keep pointing out! He did send me a scan of his Royal Warrant – it’s not particularly impressive actually. I mean, I’m impressed that he has it… oh, you know what I mean…

There must be something swirling around in the ether these days. A few weeks ago I was contacted by some good friends whom I hadn’t heard of since 1971. I still don’t know how they found me but I’m delighted they did. Friends from England who are still living in the same area of Surrey they were in when I last heard of them! You know, when you have batted around as much as I have in my life, it’s hard to imagine living in the same place for all that time – and, if I’m honest, in the same marriage. Gopal and Geetha have done it most successfully, it seems. They are proud grandparents of course. Who isn’t!

And since then I have also re-established contact with another couple of friends from the same era. And this brings me to something I would like everyone to take notice of and join in if you are so inclined. Di and Roland Clift’s son died tragically young in a motor cycle accident. Since 2009, Di has organised Smile for Julian  every year on Julian’s birthday, October the 2nd.  People from all five continents, and that includes Antarctica in case you’d forgotten, will join in. A bit late to be telling you about, I suppose, but the premise holds good whatever the date is.  All we ask you to do is some small random act of kindness to a stranger or someone in need of some cheering up. Do it in memory of someone you’ve lost. It’s not a question of money at all. Not too much to ask? Doesn’t even have to be on October 2nd. Choose your own day – or, even better, choose every day! Take a look at the website Smile for Julian, join in and then post your “acts” later, if you wish.

So September is over in an hour or two. Not a lot happened to us in September except for a riotous visit from Family Raiswell from Ottawa. Angela is getting close to baby date and understandably fed up. She says she wants her body back. I always thought that there should be some way of storing sleep before a baby’s arrival.  Deklin was in excellent form and was great fun. He’s a true little boy now. Not even a toddler any more. He’s excited about having a little sister but I suspect he imagines she will arrive ready to play trucks with him! James is a tower of strength and we are all lucky to have him!

 Footnote: I may have to find another host for my blog as WordPress 
seems to have added links and advertising without permission.
Not on!

Deklin having fun at dinner



  1. Well done daughter of Yorkshire…..and elsewhereshire

    • Adopted daughter, Betty, but honoured to be such.

  2. My initial reaction to your statement about dirty, horrible, smelly Middlesbrough and the satellite towns was, how dare she, that was my home town. Second reaction, you are right. But looking at the new Facebook page Memories of Middlesbrough with thousands of people recalling so many happy childhood memories it is testimony to the quality of the people who worked and lived in that dirty , horrible, smelly town and made it their home. Without dirty smelly ICI we would never have met!! I was lucky also to meet Gopal (and Geetha) through ICI.
    We did somewhat the same trip as Anna last year – I really feel I could live back in the Swaledale area-some of those small towns have changed very little in the last fifty years- and the pubs are just the same!!

    Once again – thanks for the memories.

    By the way I am not getting advertising add ons.

    • You’re right. Middlesbrough and ICI were instrumental in many things that contributed to the direction our lives took later. But I can,t forget rushing into friend’s house to throw up when ghastly miasma rolled across from Billingham. Sorry to offend you! You can say whatever you like about Dundee and I will agree with you completely. Anna and Tim would love to move back to England. BTW I am tapping this out on my tablet, hence all mistakes.

  3. Actually when I visited Dundee once I thought it was okay. Anywhere you vist after Middlesbrough is high class!!!
    Ipad also a problem for typing-I did buy an addon keyboard but can’t always be bothered to hook it up.
    Funny -in Linthorpe we rarely got the rolling miasma – must have been the prevailing winds- but in Linthorpe we thought we were posh so smells din’t dare to encroach. Hurworth was a lovely place to live. Now that was posh.

  4. I really enjoyed your blog. Isn’t it a wondrous time of year. I’ve just been out on my bike down a few trails and it was absolutely glorious. Like you my camera is groaning. I always think I will do paintings of the colours, but I can never fully capture it. Hope to see you soon. Anne

  5. Know what you mean Val about the Billingham smell. I lived in Billingham for three years in my teens only a hundred yards from the ICI main gates! I remember the smell but remember more the friends I made there who are still my friends.
    Living now in the country we have the frequent country smell from the fields but somehow although often strong, it seems more acceptable!

  6. will definitely snap some pics of leaves, tomorrow. Stayed in Wakefield one summer, when a kid and remember waking up to Tramp, tramp tramp tramp tramp before dawn thinking that there was something wrong with my heart…10 yrs old…but it was the miners heading for the pit. Everything smelled of coal in those days. Leaves smell a bit like coal sometimes.

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